Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is an extremely addictive stimulant that is widely abused because of the immediate, intense euphoria that it produces. Meth can be taken in a variety of ways – orally, smoked, injected, just to name a few – and is so addictive because the intense high is short and the low that users hit after using pushes them to seek more, which leads to taking repeat doses.
How Does It Affect the Brain?
Methamphetamine directly affects dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter. It is known as the “reward molecule”, meaning that it is responsible for reward-driven behavior and pleasure-seeking. Every type of reward and pleasure-seeking behavior increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain. Meaning, food, sex, good music, and other feel-good activities all affect dopamine. Unfortunately, so do super-destructive drugs like meth.
Meth releases dopamine rapidly into the brain and produces euphoria, and repeated use can easily lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsively seeking more drugs and stopping at nothing to get them.
Long-term, meth can cause anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Psychosis can also occur, causing hallucinations and delusions. Chronic use can cause chemical changes in the brain affecting emotion and memory, something people may not regain fully even once they quit using.
How Does It Affect the Body?
Meth creates a fake sense of well-being and energy, which in turn causes users to push their bodies much harder than one normally would. The drug also decreases appetite drastically, leading to malnutrition, dangerous weight loss, and nausea. Other pitfalls of meth include but are not limited to insomnia, disturbed sleep, aggressiveness, irritability, convulsions, paranoia, all leading up to and including death.
Long-term, using meth can cause harm that cannot be reversed. Heart damage can result from the increased heart rate and blood pressure the drug causes, along with damaging blood vessels in the brain that can cause strokes. Cardiovascular collapse or death, liver, kidney, and lung damage have all been seen in long-term meth users.
Aesthetically, meth users tend to look like the walking dead. Between the malnutrition, sunken cheeks, hollowed eyes, open sores, and decaying teeth – over the course of just a year a meth user can look like they’re aged 40 years.
The methamphetamine facts are there – this drug does a ton of harm to a person, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. If you or someone you know is using meth, seek help immediately before any of the irreversible damage takes hold, and get your life on the right track.
10 Methamphetamine Facts
1. Contrary to popular belief, meth is not ‘instantly addictive’.
While meth is highly addictive, it is not always addictive with one-time use. Those who are not predisposed to addictive behaviors may experiment with meth occasionally and never become chemically dependent. However, the risk certainly outweighs the reward. Very few can use methamphetamine with impunity.
2. Meth is available as a prescription medication.
Desoxyn, a pharmaceutical brand of methamphetamine, is prescribed (on rare occasion) to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and obesity. Of course, pharmaceutical amphetamine is still widely available (most notably under the brand name Adderall). Prescription drugs such as these can serve as gateways to true meth use.
3. Methamphetamine is easy to make – especially compared to other drugs.
The reason why so much of the meth currently in circulation throughout the US was manufactured here and not trafficked over state lines is simply that meth is pretty easy to whip up. This is why the rates of lab seizures have increased so dramatically over the course of the past several years.
4. Amphetamine use is common amongst athletes.
Many athletes – professional and otherwise – will use amphetamine to help them perform better during events. Occasional use can quickly lead to addiction.
5. Meth can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected.
Methamphetamine can be consumed in a variety of methods; though intravenous use always tends to pose the highest threat. The high usually lasts from between 8 and 10 hours regardless of the method of consumption.
6. Meth use is especially prevalent throughout the gay community.
Gay men will use meth to stay awake and engage in sexual activity for prolonged lengths of time. Meth use has gained rampant popularity throughout the gay community, and the rates of addiction amongst middle-aged gay males has increased significantly over the course of the past several years.
7. Regulating pseudoephedrine hasn’t made a major impact.
Regulating the sales of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine (a key ingredient in meth manufacturing) has made some impact on the prevalence of home cook labs – but it has not made as major an impact as the government would like to have us think. Pseudoephedrine is still being transported over the border in bulk.
8. Most meth addicts don’t look like… meth addicts.
Not all meth addicts have sunken-in eyes, missing teeth, and sores covering their faces and arms. Many meth addicts look just like you and me. Never judge a book by its cover!
9. Meth addicts typically become addicted to other drugs while attempting to get some sleep.
Many meth addicts will turn to hardcore tranquilizers after a particularly brutal meth binge, in hopes of catching a few winks before picking up again. This will sometimes cause unintentional dual addictions.
10. Prolonged meth use can lead to permanent psychosis.
There are many long-term consequences of meth use – including permanent brain damage. And neurological issues take effect much more rapidly than they do in those who suffer from alcoholism or marijuana addiction. Permanent consequences resulting from compulsive meth use can take hold in a matter of months.
If you are addicted to methamphetamine, get the facts and get treatment.
Get Help for Meth Addiction
Meth addiction is extremely serious – and far more common than you may think. For more information on meth addiction or for a comprehensive list of methamphetamine treatment options, please contact one of our trained representatives today.